BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A wall erected on a walkway between the Amberton subdivision and Stockdale Estates will remain in place, an appellate court has ruled.
This case has been in contention for more than half a decade, Ray T. Mullen, attorney for defendants Michael and Dan Hansen, said.
“I would say the dominant reaction was a certain amount of relief and vindications,” Mullen said about his clients’ feelings after the latest ruling. “It’s been 5-and-a-half years. All they wanted to do was close that hole on their property.”
The Hansens built the wall in 2013 because their home and nearby houses had been repeatedly vandalized and burglarized, Mullen said. The criminal activity ceased after the wall went up.
The walkway between the two subdivisions had been open for years and children often used it to go to and from school.
But the path on the Stockdale Estate side sits on property belonging to Hansen.
After the wall was built, a lawsuit was filed by a group of people – former and current residents of the Amberton subdivision – to have the wall torn down.
In 2015, a Kern County judge ruled that the wall must come down, because of an “implied-in-fact dedication” based on “decades of continuous public use,” according to court documents.
When the Hansens filed an appeal in the court's decision. The effect of filing an appeal stayed the order to pull down the wall.
A later ruling said the Hansens had to pay the plaintiffs’ court costs.
But after the judge ordered the wall torn down, the California Supreme Court ruled on a case – Scher v. Burke – that negated the basis of the Kern County judge’s reasoning for ruling for the plaintiff in the Amberton wall case.
On Thursday, a Fifth Appellate District court overturned the early decision, siding with the defendants, saying the wall may remain and the plaintiffs had to pay the Hansens’ court costs.
“They are disappointed that it took so long, but they are happy that it appears to be over,” Mullen said.